Gigginstown plan rare Royal Ascot runner as Mengli Khan makes Elliott team sheet

Gigginstown House Stud, who shocked the racing world last month when announcing plans to wind down what has become one of the sport's most successful operations over the next few years, look set to be represented for just the second time at Royal Ascot courtesy of Mengli Khan.

Gigginstown's only previous runner at the royal meeting came when Midnight Oil finished tenth in the 2013 Ascot Stakes and Mengli Khan, a Grade 1 winner over hurdles, is heading towards the same 2m4f contest on the opening day of the meeting on Tuesday week. 

Trained by Gordon Elliott, Mengli Khan had a busy first season over fences during the winter and spring, finishing third in the JLT Novices' Chase at Cheltenham and filling the same position in the Manifesto Novices' Chase at Aintree. He was last seen over fences, again in Grade 1 company, when fourth at Fairyhouse in April.    

Elliott, who has twice sent out the winner of the Queen Alexandra Stakes at Royal Ascot with Commissioned in 2016 and Pallasator a year ago, may also field as many as three runners in the Ascot Stakes, while popular stayer Pallasator is again on the Queen Alexandra trail.  

“Pallasator is going back for the Queen Alexandra and we have a few possibles for the Ascot Stakes," said the trainer, who has enjoyed plenty of big-race success for Gigginstown over jumps. 

He added: "We’re looking at running Mengli Khan, Batts Rock and Lethal Steps in the Ascot Stakes."

Mengli Khan does have previous form on the Flat, having won at Kempton for Hugo Palmer three years ago before joining Elliott.

Another Irish trainer with multiple entries for Ascot is Fozzy Stack, who is preparing a team of five as he bids for a first winner under his own name at the royal meeting. 

Stack, who took over the licence at Thomastown Castle Stables from his father, Tommy, at the end of 2016, was assistant when Lolly For Dolly won the Duke Of Cambridge Stakes in 2011 and his team next week will include three juveniles. 

Stack said: “Mohican Heights, who won on his debut over seven furlongs at Leopardstown last month, is entered for the Goffs London Sale next Monday and the plan is to run him in the Chesham Stakes.

“American Lady is also in the same sale and we’re looking at the Queen Mary Stakes for her, while Back To Brussels will either run in the Queen Mary or the Albany Stakes.”

Mohican Heights made all to win at Leopardstown on his debut last month, the form of which received a boost when the runner-up Lil Grey, a possible for Sheila Lavery in the Albany Stakes, won at the Curragh on Friday.

On his handicap runners, Stack added: “Eclipse Storm, who ran second in the Tetrarch Stakes at the Curragh last month, will go for the Britannia, while Zihba is an intended runner in the Wolferton.”

Sheila Lavery is counting down the days as she prepares Qipco 1,000 Guineas runner-up Lady Kaya for a tilt at the Group 1 Commonwealth Cup.

Lavery's stable star was beaten a length by Hermosa in the Newmarket Classic, after which it was decided the daughter of Dandy Man would drop back to six furlongs for the Group 1 Royal Ascot sprint.

The trainer said: “It’s a nervous time where we hope all continues to go well with our filly. Robbie Colgan thinks she has improved since Newmarket and we’re looking forward to running her. It’s all systems go.”

Lady Kaya, who won the Leopardstown 1,000 Guineas Trial on her reappearance, will be racing over six furlongs for only the third time and Lavery added: “She has loads of speed and we think and hope that Ascot’s stiff six furlongs will suit her."